I decided to take it easier on my last day and just enjoy my immediate surroundings before heading back to London tomorrow and ‘Life’. I’ve enjoyed exploring what Aldeburgh has to offer in the town and nearby over the last couple of days but I wasn’t planning to go far today. However, as usual I was up fairly early and took a short walk before breakfast to enjoy the beach while it was almost deserted and to buy a Sunday paper.
There’s a rather wonderful old-fashioned newsagent nearby which remarkably opens at 5 a.m. every day. I can’t imagine who goes there that early. I should ask them! Aldeburgh is such a sleepy town compared to London and most places don’t open until 10 a.m. and many close at 4 p.m. They sell cards and gifts and stationery as well as newspapers and magazines and I’ve bought a few things there. They are friendly, as everyone I’ve encountered here has been, and due to their early opening I had no trouble getting my paper first thing.
Back at The Cross Keys I went down to the bar area for my breakfast. I don’t eat much first thing, and never cooked breakfast (though there’s a good choice here) so had my usual juice, yogurt-granola-fruit pot, croissant and coffee.
I potted around during the morning, taking short walks, getting another coffee at Libardi’s kiosk and drinking it sitting on a bench on the seafront.
Then I took a look around some of the shops, many opening a bit later as it’s Sunday.
For lunch I decided to have fish and chips again from Aldeburgh Fish & Chips as they’d been so good on my first day.
I never eat fish and chips in London – it seems something to do by the sea. I had cod and chips again and a small can of Adnam’s Ghost Ship almost alcohol free beer. I took them to the beach and settled on a low wall to eat them.
Adnams is one of the UK’s leading breweries. It was established in Southwold, 12 miles north of here, in 1872. Since 2010 they’ve also made gin, vodka and whisky. Really this seemed a perfect accompaniment to my food. I didn’t want something alcoholic but Ghost Ship is a great pale ale with a good flavour. Who would guess there’s no alcohol … There’d been a long queue when I turned up at the fish shop but it moved quickly so I didn’t have to wait long. It’s small but there were three people serving and they’re obviously used to crowds and delivering quickly and efficiently.
The beach was quite crowded in parts, especially around benches where others were eating, but looking out from where I sat, it was almost clear. It’s such a huge beach I can’t imagine it’s ever truly crowded. It was busier than I’d seen it before but I guess many head here on Sundays as a day out. I enjoyed my lunch but had a minor drama when I dropped a couple of chips by mistake and a few seagulls swooped down and I felt almost under attack. It was momentarily a bit frightening. I used to think they were about the same size as pigeons but actually they are much bigger. They have a terrible reputation for taking food out of people’s hands and I’ve seen a notice saying you can be fined £2,500 for feeding them. Though I presume not when it’s by mistake!
Later on I took a walk along the seafront in the opposite direction, away from the high street and here one sees a number of fish shacks selling fresh and smoked fish. I’d considered buying a takeaway lunch at one but in the end, thinking it was easier to buy good fish at home rather than good fish & chips, I stuck to my original plan. But certainly on a longer trip or if one was self catering here, these would be a good source of the freshest fish.
Opposite the shacks is the 16th century Moot Hall, the oldest building in Aldeburgh and now its local museum.
It was originally located in the centre of the town but due to erosion of the coastline, it’s now almost at the sea’s edge, as you can see in the next photo.
Also here is Libardi’s kiosk and so I bought a gelato and settled on a bench on the beach.
As I sat eating, alarms started ringing at the lifeboat station nearby. People around me assumed it was a practice.
This is the new station; the old, much smaller one is a little further along with an old lifeboat sitting by it.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a large charity with stations all round the country where volunteers man the lifeboats to save lives at sea. They mainly rely on donations – 93% of their income – and the sale of gifts etc in their shops.
I looked over the beach and saw crowds gathering as the lifeboat was hauled into the sea.
I walked over and a local told me she thought someone must be in trouble as they didn’t usually practise on Sundays. Let’s hope if it was, it all ended well. It did highlight the importance of institutions like the RNLI.
I thought it would be nice to eat at The Cross Keys again on my last night. I’ve enjoyed staying here. It’s really cosy with friendly staff and ideally located, so it would definitely be my first choice anytime I come back to Aldeburgh.
I got such a warm welcome as if I was a regular and asked about what I’d been doing during my stay. I ordered the olives and homemade vegetable pickles again as nibbles and a glass of white Burgundy. I was told what the three specials were and went with the sea bass.
The pan-fried sea bass was on a bed of warm salad with new potatoes, cherry tomatoes and olives. It was wonderful. The sea bass gorgeous and perfectly cooked and the salad brilliant with a lovely summer freshness.
Having had a pudding discussion and being told I must try one of theirs … well, how could I not? So I went with the chocolate and date brownie with pistachio crumb and salted caramel ice cream.
Oh my goodness – it was AMAZING! Slightly warm, deeply chocolately and delightfully gooey, the brownie was fabulous. It was excellent gelato too – a lovely salted caramel flavour and just perfect creaminess. I shall have to go on a diet when I get home!!
I finished eating early enough for it to still be light outside, though the sun was going down.
I walked along the beach for about half enough, enjoying again this wonderful view and the peace that is Aldeburgh.